Her is the new original film written and directed by Spike Jonze: the former music video helmer whose feature-length directorial efforts include a pair of critically-acclaimed exercises in bizarre meta-storytelling with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman – Being John Malkovich and Adaptation – and the unconventional adaptation of author Maurice Sendak’s beloved illustrated children’s novel Where the Wild Things Are. If you were to harbor a guess that Jonze’s new project is also unusual (yet not undefinable in terms of genre), then you would be correct.
Joaquin Phoenix – looking here more like a healthy and functional person (well, okay, relatively-speaking) than he did in P.T. Anderson’s The Master last year – stars in Her as Theodore: a divorced and asocial writer, who decides to buy a cutting-edge artificially-intelligent operating system in order to better organize and structure his life. What he did not expect was that the machine that he calls Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) would not only rejuvenate his passion for life – “she” would also prove to be the “woman” that he falls in genuine love with.
Phoenix is back at the top of his acting game, following his Oscar-nominated turn in The Master; likewise, the supporting cast for Her includes Phoenix’s Master costar Amy Adams, in addition to Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Olivia Wilde (Rush) and Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty). Based on the Her trailer footage, the film’s talented acting crew looks to bring a non-sugarcoated sense of humanity to the characters (in terms of behavior/appearance) – that includes Johansson, whose voice is an excellent match for the budding consciousness that is “Samantha.”
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Thankfully, it appears as though Her will examine the realities of the the adult relationship between Theodore and Samantha. That doesn’t just mean there will be some uncomfortably-intimate discussions between the pair (teased in the trailer); hopefully, it’s a sign that Jonze intends to examine the more complex and troubling implications of the film’s story – like, what does it say about Phoenix’s character, that he would fall for an A.I. personality – and is their connection any more or less meaningful than that between two ordinary humans?
Similar to Jonze’s previous films, it’s safe to assume that Her won’t have as much appeal for mainstream audiences. Case in point, during opening weekend, Jonze’s boy-meets-computer love story will serve as counter-programming to the more accessible entertainment offered by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Personally, I am excited to see both movies, especially since Jonze has yet to fail at delivering something though-provoking – sometimes even heart-breaking – and certainly a far way from being forgettable.
Let us know if you are into Her (sorry, could resist), based on the newly-released trailer. Is this the kind of indie film that’s up your alley?
Her will begin a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on November 20th, 2013.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers